No job was too small for unemployed TV personality

We don’t like to admit it, but many of us are closer to rock bottom than we might think.

Even TV news celebrities — a high-ego community if ever there was one — aren’t shielded from the “shame” we tend to heap on people who are unemployed. The Great Recession should’ve taught us how vulnerable we are to the whims of employers and a shaky economy, and to think about what we’d do when the ax falls.

That’s why former KSTP weatherman Patrick Hammer’s story in the Star Tribune today is so poignant and instructive.

When his contract wasn’t renewed last spring, no one was calling with job offers, but the mortgage had to be paid and the family had to eat. He wasn’t too good for what little work was out there, the paper says.

“This is not a ‘poor me’ story. This is what you go though when you’re not the young Sven-like body. I’m a middle-aged guy, it’s a little more challenging to find that great job,” said Hammer. “You know, I could have done something else, another career in the Twin Cities. I wanted to do a job that would allow me to keep the heat on as well as leave in a moment’s notice if that great job ever came. So I went to work at a Target distribution center. You package stuff and load it on a truck all day.”

One day you’re the guy on TV, the next day you’re the guy on TV being asked by people, “what happened to you?”

“I went in there [thinking], ‘You know what? This will be good for me. It will be exercise.’ Nothing’s beneath me. When I went in there, 12-hour shifts six days a week, I was recognized quite a bit. Everybody would do a double take: ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ ”

Hammer also had days when he thought, “ ‘This sucks.’ Then the more I did it, I realized I was working with cool people. I kind of embraced it: This is where I am and I can’t be bummed. I mean whenever I walked in, the security guards were like Hey, Channel 5! It became fun.

Hammer is leaving the area now. After a fill-in gig at KARE, he’s taking a TV job in Buffalo.